Matthew 15

What does it say?
The Pharisees question Jesus, as to the why his disciples do not observe the hand washing tradition of the elders, but he answers them, by showing the Pharisees that they are teaching the precepts of men and ignoring the commandments of God. Jesus said to the crowd that a person is not defiled by what he eats but by what he says. The disciples were concerned that Jesus words offended the Pharisees; therefore, Jesus told his disciples that the Pharisees are false teachers. Jesus’ disciples confessed that the did not understand the statement about what defiles a man, so Jesus explained to them the workings of the gastrointestinal system. Then he explained to them that all sin begins with evil thoughts, which manifest in evil words and evil actions. A woman whose physical birth was not from one of the tribes of Israel came and asked Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus refused her request but after she answered wisely he healed her daughter and he called the woman’s faith great. Jesus went along the sea of Galilee healing the mute, crippled, lame, and blind people brought to him and they glorified God. The crowd was with Jesus for three days and did not have food to eat but Jesus satisfactorily feed them with seven loaves of bread and a few fish; when the four thousand men who were there, along with their wives and children were satisfied, the disciples picked up seven baskets full of leftovers. After this, Jesus departed from the crowd by boat, across the sea of Galilee to another region. 

What does it mean?
The Pharisees had no right given to them by God to be the teachers of the law but made themselves the spiritual guides of the sons of Israel. The word is the Lord’s; therefore, it is the Lord who calls teachers of the word. At the end of this book Jesus will commission his disciples to teach his word. As the Son of God, Jesus has the right to teach the word of God and appoint whomever he wills to teach his word. The Pharisees were not appointed by God to teach the word of God. There are many teaching the word today who are false professors of the word. Like the Pharisees, they are teaching the precepts of men rather than the word of God. The word of God should be considered with much care because the word of God is holy. Everything that we need to know is in the word but the Holy Spirit is needed for understanding because without the Holy Spirit our hearts are darkened. It is very interesting that Jesus called the Pharisees blind guides leading the blind and then calls a gentile (Non-Jewish) woman a woman of great faith. She demonstrated the wisdom of God with the answer that she gave Jesus. God promised Abraham that in his seed all of the nations on earth would be blessed. (cf. Gn 18:18, 22:18) This woman was not claiming rights as a daughter of Israel but was claiming the promised blessing for all the nations. All of Jesus’ care and miracles demonstrate that he is the Son of God.

What shall I do?
There are many traditions in the church. My tradition is the Baptist tradition. However, I do not believe that to be a Christian a person has to adhere to the Baptist tradition. There are doctrines that we cannot waiver on but Baptism is not one of those doctrines. The church that I attend (Sylvania Church in Tyler, Texas) has a particular way of conducting our corporate worship service but we do not claim that our tradition is the only way. I shall be careful not to treat traditions as doctrines of God. Jesus is the God-Man, fully God and fully man in one person. This is a doctrine on which we cannot waiver. The miraculous signs that Jesus did demonstrate that he is the God-Man. I shall worship Jesus Christ as God in human flesh and trust in him the promised blessing for the nations.